Are You Really The Entrepreneur You Claim To Be?

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It is real funny but it looks like everyone without a job today calls himself an entrepreneur, and–judging by the way the word is thrown around–you might think every one of those self employed people is.

The term is applied to politicians and college presidents, cabdrivers and bookies. People like Donald Trump and Richard Branson are held up as models of entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, newspapers routinely refer to lone wolfs trying to sell something at a profit as entrepreneurs.

Well let me tell you something folks. Entrepreneur is not a meaningless word, and we shouldn’t let it become one. It’s the only word we have to describe a person who performs a particular function that’s critical to our economic well-being. I’m talking about the conversion of ideas into viable businesses by means of ingenuity, hard work, resilience, imagination, luck, and all the other ingredients that go into a successful start-up. That process is not the only way to create wealth in a capitalist economy, and the people who do it aren’t members of some sort of business elite. But they do something that’s important and different from what other businesspeople do, and they deserve to have a name.

So what is the definition of an entrepreneur? I have a very simple one. In my book, entrepreneurs are people who, starting with nothing more than an idea for a new venture, have the ability to take it to the point at which the business can sustain itself on its own internally generated cash flow.

I’m not talking about people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. Luck is a factor in every start-up, but I don’t count people who start one company and then can’t do it again to save their souls. And I don’t include people who become what I call “lifestyle entrepreneurs” because they are not able to find a decent job to pay their bills. These are called entrepreneurs by accident.

I also rule out people who build on existing businesses.

Ray Kroc for example, who built McDonald’s from a successful hamburger stand into one of the greatest companies in the world, a great businessman and one of the best managers ever, is though in my definition no entrepreneur. He was without doubt a pioneer and a figure bigger than life, but the people who got the company up and running were the McDonald brothers.

By the same token, I would exclude people who inherit a business, no matter what they do with it afterward. Ned Johnson of Fidelity Investments, for example, has revolutionized the financial-services industry, but his father, who started the business, was the entrepreneur. Same goes for Donald Trump.

Nor do you qualify if you do nothing more than acquire existing businesses, like most of the people doing so-called industry roll-ups. They go around the country, buying up local businesses–say, ambulance services or delivery companies–which they then bundle together to create a new national entity. To be sure, they call themselves entrepreneurs. A couple of them have even been designated “Entrepreneurs of the Year,” which is a joke. By and large, they’re just smart accountants.

The point is that entrepreneurs, real entrepreneurs, are people who create companies from scratch. They start with nothing except what they themselves bring to the party–a concept, a few contacts, maybe some capital, plus all of those intangible qualities that are important to success in any new venture. And that’s about it. There are no salespeople, no offices, no telephones or computers, no accounting system, no operations, no customers or suppliers. The entrepreneurs’ job is to put everything together, wearing 10 different hats, juggling 20 different balls, relying on their own knowledge and instincts and creativity to get them to positive cash flow.

And the best entrepreneurs are masters of the process, which is not to say that they’re necessarily the greatest businesspeople in the world. Very few of them are industry pioneers. Many of them have a hard time managing the companies they create. They may even fail in a newbusiness venture now and then. But they know how to bounce back from failure, and they keep on trying until they succeed. What they’re good at is starting businesses. They can do it again and again.

So who are the real entrepreneurs? Ross Perot is certainly one of them. So is Steven Jobs. I would also include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Federal Express founder Fred Smith too.

But most real entrepreneurs are people you’ve never heard of. There are thousands and thousands of them–men and women of every race and nationality, in every industry and every corner of the globe. They’re starting businesses every day, and the world is a better place because of it.

For their sake, let’s reserve the title of entrepreneur for a particular group of people–the ones who’ve earned it and provide them with access to the capital they need to build their dreams and reshape the world.

After all, and as the late Peter Drucker used to say: “Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society. The theory sees change as normal and indeed as healthy. And it sees the major task in society – and especially in the economy – as doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done. That is basically what Say, two hundred years ago, meant when he coined the term entrepreneur. It was intended as a manifesto and as a declaration of dissent: the entrepreneur upsets and disorganizes. As Joseph Schumpeter formulated it, his task is “creative destruction.”

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My Thoughts Regarding Wealth Redistribution

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Much of the rhetoric we’re hearing in the media today talks about the huge gap between rich and poor. Politicians on both sides discuss this issue, but neither seems to get to the root of the problem.

It’s true that the gap between the richest 10 percent of the country and the remaining 90 percent is growing, but from that point on, most politicians get it wrong.

The issue isn’t a matter of “wealth redistribution”, nor is it about protecting current tax rates. The real issue at hand is that most Americans just don’t understand the rules of personal finance. They believe what they hear from friends or people selling them products. It comes down to a lack of financial education.

Schools are turning out students who are not fully prepared for the real world. They might know the basics of history, science, math, and English, but there is no real teaching of money in school. I majored in economics and finance and I spent 25 years on Wall Street honing my skills, so I know firsthand how boring the topics can be. But I’m not talking about the heavy theory or detailed rules. I’m talking about simple personal finance — the money issues that will come up for people in the real world.

It is a sad fact today that when students they break out on their own, they are left unarmed when sellers of credit come calling. To be clear, it’s not that people are dumb — the sly and ingenious credit card companies make handling credit seem easy. But either way, the new consumers don’t see or know that taking on debt at a young age is killing their financial security. Saving at a young age is critical. Simple facts about personal finance are not taught and thus bright people are caught making financial mistakes.

Plans to redistribute wealth take money from those who know what they’re doing financially and give it to people who don’t know basic financial principles. The subprime mortgage crisis was a perfect example of that. Hardworking taxpayers were paying to bail out banks and individuals who made negligent transactions. People who were financially ignorant were allowed to take big loans from equally ignorant (or in some cases, criminal) mortgage brokers. Greed from Wall Street made it worse. Had more people known about simple financial principles, this would not have happened, nor would we be arguing about how to pay for it.

It’s not a matter of fiscal theory or taxation. It’s all about education. I’m not a fan of big government, but this is one place the government can step in and help. If there were mandatory programs for graduation that included personal finance, our economy could be on the right track in a generation or two.

While no politician is doing much to solve the real issue here, I think that we as entrepreneurs can begin to fix this problem. Have lunch with your staff and teach them about personal finance. If you’re not up to teaching the class, bring in an expert. Make sure the expert isn’t selling something or else you could be adding to the confusion. Refer them to the Financial Policy Council and start attending our events.

If we start by educating our staffs, we can work to build a financially intelligent country and get back on track at the same time. Plus, isn’t this a great benefit to give to the people who make your company work? If you invest in their financial knowledge, I’m sure it will help your bottom line.

I strongly believe any redistribution of wealth by the government, in either the executive, legislative, or judicial branches, has no place in a free, democratic society.

Some of our politicians reach for all the favorite conservative buzzwords. But they fail to cite any evidence to refute the simple, and I think quite obvious, assertion that the marketplace works most efficiently when entry of new businesses is a realistic possibility and predatory pricing is outlawed. That’s what the antitrust laws are supposed to accomplish. And business people who compete fairly and squarely need not worry about them for a moment.

You know you are capitalism’s ideal puppet when winning the lottery is your only chance to realizing financial freedom.
Want to change the outcome and start truly learning the process? The Financial Policy Council is the place to be. See for yourself.

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Winning Financial Support For Your Non Profit

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As Founder & President of the Financial Policy Council since 2011, I learned over the last few years more than a few effective ways to win financial support for non-profit organizations.

I thought of sharing some with you in here for the benefit of anyone looking to enter the great world of non profits.

Here’s the lay of the land…

  1. Don’t Chase the Money – You have to qualify, qualify, qualify. Make sure your mission and purpose fits closely with the funding entity’s mission and purpose. Don’t apply for a grant because your business sort of, kind of fits it. Don’t tailor what your business does to get the funding. In hindsight, I learned to apply only for grants that look like they’re specifically written for me, my business.
  2. Be Laser Like Focused – Identifying private foundations, and other organizations that give grants to individuals or small businesses requires considerable time, effort and research. For starters, look in your own backyard to find grant-makers that have previously funded projects or services for businesses like yours. Use a rifle approach never a gunshot approach.
  3. Determine Your Approach – Once you identify potential funders, determine how you intend to approach them. Make a personal contact and cultivate relationships by e-mail, telephone call, office visit and/or letter of inquiry. During this stage you want to determine 1) their interest in your project or company, and 2) what they would like to see first as the initial document of entry (i.e., letter of inquiry or concept paper). Many funding organizations now prefer that requests be submitted first in letter format before accepting a full proposal.
  4. Get To Know Your Funder – Don’t write the proposal first and then go looking for funders. Your grant proposal has to be prescriptive to what that funder is seeking. Get to know potential grant-makers better by obtaining copies of their annual reports. Scrutinize their website. What buzz words do they use. You can even incorporate that funder’s colors into the fonts and graphics that you use in your grant proposal.
  5. Do Whatever the “Request For Proposal” Says – Most importantly, request a copy of the grant guidelines. Follow the requirements of the funding notice or application to the letter. Your guide for what to include or not to include in your document is the request for proposal (RFP) or grant application. Give the funder exactly what they ask for, no more and no less. If it says give a brief statement, you write a paragraph. If it says give us two to four pages that is what you will provide—not one page or four and a half pages.
  6. State Measurable Not Fluffy Objectives – In general, your proposal will start with an introduction, which includes the amount requested, followed by a description and brief history of your company and its products, services or programs. Your proposal should describe anticipated and immediate short-term and long-term results, proposed implementation, staff or key personnel, budget, methodology, benchmarks, and timetable. A common mistake in writing a proposal is failing to distinguish between a goal and objective. To provide value added services to financially savvy professionals helping to create wealth is a goal not an objective. Your objective must be S.M.A.R.T, that is specific, measurable, obtainable, realistic, and time bound. A measurable objective will have a subject, an action, a location, a timeframe and a percentage.
  7. Spell Out How You Intend to Spend the Money – The person giving you the money has to make sure you know how to spend it – line item by line item. Some reviewers look at the budget first to gauge applicants. People often are disqualified for providing an improper budget. They usually get tripped up by either over estimating or underestimating their costs.
  8. Consult a Professional Grant Writer – Don’t be fooled by advertisements and promotions for granting writing. There are a lot of scammers, especially on the internet. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource for checking the references of a grant writer. Expect to pay from $1,000 to $3,000 for a grant proposal for private or foundation funding and $4,000 to $15,000 for a grant proposal for government funding, since such grant applications tend to be more intricate.  Even if you don’t hire someone to write it, you should consider hiring someone to review it.

Now you know …. Share your thoughts if you believe I missed anything of significance.

Good luck with your funding.

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Discerning Fact from Fiction

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There was a time that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them did not find it necessary to conscript themselves into wars of disinformation.

Propaganda was relatively straightforward. The lies were much simpler. The control of information flow was easily directed. The elites kept the information to themselves, and removed its remnants from mainstream recognition, sometimes for centuries before it was rediscovered.

With the success of the American Revolution, elitists were no longer able to dominate information. The establishment of Republics, with their philosophy of open government and rule by the people, compelled Aristocratic minorities to plot more subtle ways of obstructing the truth and thus maintaining their hold over the world without exposing themselves to retribution from the masses. Thus, the complex art of disinformation was born.

The goal was malicious, but socially radical; instead of expending the impossible energy needed to dictate the very form and existence of the truth, they would allow it to drift, obscured in a fog of contrived data. They would wrap the truth in a Knot of misdirection and fabrication so elaborate that they felt certain the majority of people would surrender, giving up long before they ever finished unraveling the deceit. The goal was not to destroy the truth, but to hide it in plain sight.

In modern times, and with carefully engineered methods, this goal has for the most part been accomplished. However, these methods also have inherent weaknesses. Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly.

The mainstream media, once tasked with the job of investigating government corruption and keeping elitists in line, has now unfortunately become nothing more than a public relations firm for corrupt officials and their Globalist handlers. The days of the legitimate “investigative reporter” are long gone (if they ever existed at all), and journalism itself has deteriorated into a rancid pool of so called “TV Editorialists” who treat their own baseless opinions as supported fact.

The elitist co-opting of news has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the printing press. However, the first methods of media disinformation truly came to fruition under the supervision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who believed the truth was “subjective” and open to his personal interpretation.

TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good”; essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics? In reality, his strategies are the perfect format for corrupt institutions and governments to dissuade dissent from the masses. Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition.

Alinsky’s Strategy: Win At Any Cost, Even If You Have To Lie.

Alinsky’s tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate in the US today.

The next time you view an MSN debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of their strategies used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.

The truth is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society who have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process.

The human psyche breathes on the air of truth. Without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance.

Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt: all things that lead to destruction. It can drive good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves.

Without a concerted and organized effort to diffuse mass-produced lies, the future looks bleak indeed.

It is a fact that not enough Americans feel a high enough level of pain yet. When they do, who knows what the results will be.  I frankly don’t think we can judge, (based on current experience trying to ‘wake’ people up), what will happen in the future.

I warned you though … Let’s see what you make out of it.

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Living your Life as a True Activist?

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I believe that many people are living a life just for the sake of existence with no real purpose other than going with the flow or seeking an elusive happiness that never seems to materialize.

Have you ever thought about living your life as a true activist? What do you think this would entail?

Here are some personal thoughts.

As George Orwell once said: “Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”

Well I believe we’re all here for a reason. There are many forces that would distract us and prevent us finding it. Seek your reason, and in doing so you will find consolation and purpose.

I’d suggest, by and large, society today is geared up to turn good people into bad. It’s a society run by bad people in favor of bad people; bad meaning the self centered and selfish. People are forced to tow the ridiculous, individualist, greed driven line in order to survive.

The metaphor I use is that of someone who’s in a hole in the ground. The hole is filling with water and they are bailing out the water just to stay alive. The bigger their wage, the bigger their cup. The problem is that no one is given the time to ask the very simple questions, ‘Why am I in this hole, who put me there?’. They’re just kept too busy bailing and become exhausted in the process.

Remember Tolstoy? “Money is the new form of slavery”.

A friend of mine refers to this as ‘the upside down world’. Such an observation of society’s contradiction is correct both in moral and practical terms. We are doomed in both respects as long as we keep believing the great lie which forms the basis of economic models around the world, that of ‘infinite growth.

If you’re interested in reading a very interesting work on the fundamentally flawed economic models used to keep us all captive and grind the Earth and its resources to dust, check out Professor Tim Jackson’s work entitled ‘Prosperity without Growth’.

Notably, the Sustainable Development Commission which commissioned and published this work was shut down in 2011. It’s stated aim was to ‘Hold government to account to ensure the needs of society, the economy and the environment were properly balanced in the decisions it made and the way it ran itself’. It was axed as part of the coalition spending cuts enforced upon the people to pay the price of the banking industry’s excess.

As mentioned above in ‘the hole dilemma’, if people had the time to stop and think how their society has been butchered by the greed driven power politics of big business, and the consequential harm to society and social services, I suspect a great many politicians would need to put their running shoes on…

Thomas Jefferson summed up and warned of our society today nearly 100 years ago. I believe it is applicable to all, if not the vast majority, of nations.

“And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

In short, we are governed by the morally bankrupt and criminally corrupt. Though I am of no specific religious denomination, I pray to all and any deities that one day we find the strength to stand up and put an end to this horror.

I would also add that to my mind the idea of nations is as primitive as stone age tribal thinking and that patriotism is just nationalism by another name. We are one planet, there is no disputing that. What harms one harms us all. What helps one helps us all. The universal bond that connects us is one that cannot be broken and should not be allowed to be degraded by the politically motivated manufactured consensus based on an ideological madness.

All I can say is hold on, be strong, start contributing by educating your fellow citizens, live your life like a true activist. Change is coming.

You don’t need to change anything external like your behavior or your circumstances. You don’t need to have “worth” to society. If you want peace of mind and happiness, you must change the way you perceive your world and start doing something about it.

A person’s contribution doesn’t need to be grand or even positive, as long as we’re not stuck in solitary confinement our actions and behavior will contribute. I’ve learned and benefited from all levels of society in many countries. Lawyers have taught me, beggars have taught me, doctors have taught me and other species have taught me – everything and everybody has in some way affected and raised my awareness.

I live to cut through, endure and learn from the suffering and pain because it’s so very worth it to experience what comes as a result. I realize that for some, suffering consumes the majority of their lives and may well be inescapable. In that case it becomes an individual’s choice whether or not to continue. This is an ecosystem, it isn’t fair or intrinsically purposeful, life is a struggle with intermittent rewards.

So I say, struggle and find your rewards, use all your wits and resources to glimpse those fleeting moments of joy, share your life with others, share the struggle and the joy, bite the bullet and see if you can outsmart the system. Keep doing it, learn and fight, bite and scratch for your piece of the cake. Find solace in whichever form works for you, understand the sharks you swim with.

Life isn’t pretty but by living your life as a true activist you do create an enormous ripple effect no matter who you are.

Share your thoughts.

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